Hakula maintains Mission Inn advantage with second-round 68
January 08, 2020
By Laury Livsey, PGATOURLA.COM
- January 08, 2020
- At 7-under, Hakula leads France’s Jeremy Gandon by a shot, and the quartet of Kyler Tate, Roland Massmino, Casey Komline and John Clare by two strokes.
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida—Finland’s Toni Hakula entered the second round leading the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s Qualifying Tournament at Mission Inn Resort and Club’s El Campeon Course. When the day ended, he was still ahead, and the Helsinki native admitted it wasn’t something he was expecting.
“I’m a little surprised that I am,” the University of Texas product said when asked about his 36-hole lead. “I felt like I left so much out there. I hit some bad shots where I made some unnecessary bogeys. I missed a couple of short ones. I feel like there is so much more that I could have done. To be in the position I’m in, I feel very fortunate, very happy about that.”
Hakula, a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica veteran, is poised to return to the Tour for a third consecutive season—and fourth overall—if he continues playing the way he has, even with what he calls his “inconsistencies.” At 7-under, Hakula leads France’s Jeremy Gandon by a shot, and the quartet of Kyler Tate, Roland Massmino, Casey Komline and John Clare by two strokes.
Gandon is a Mackenzie Tour veteran, having played his rookie season in 2019 and finishing 64th on the Order of Merit. Komline has a combined five starts—four in 2016 and one in 2018—while Tate played his first four career events late in the 2019 season, three in Peru and one in Argentina. Massimino and Clare have never played in a PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour tournament. They all head into Thursday chasing Hakula, who knows how to win after he secured the 2018 Bupa Match Play title by winning six consecutive matches that week outside Cancun.
Hakula, playing the back nine first, began his day birdie-bogey. He missed a five-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole after hitting a 3-iron into the wind from 203 yards. “I mis-read it. It didn’t even come close to touching the hole. I don’t know what happened there,” Hakula explained with a laugh. He had a disappointing par on his seventh hole, No. 16, when he lipped out for birdie. “It was 10 feet straight up the hill. I thought I made it,” he added. “I started walking it in, and it lipped out. I guess it had a little too much speed. It was a good putt that didn’t go in. It happens.”
He got one back on the next hole, though. After hitting his drive into the trees on the left on No. 17, Hakula punched out through a small gap and then hit a 6-iron approach shot to 15 feet and canned the putt for birdie. “That was a big bonus,” he continued.
Hakula plays the third round with Gandon and Massimino, the trio teeing off at 12:50 p.m. EST.
Did you know that Roland Massimino and Jeremy Gandon played at the 2019 Mission Inn Spring Spectacular college tournament when they were both seniors at Kansas State? Gandon claimed the individual title at the El Campeon Course, Massimino tied for 11th (after beginning the final round tied for 27th) and the Wildcats won the team title, defeating the University of Central Florida by 13 strokes. This week, through 36 holes, Gandon is in second and Massimino is tied for third.
How the Qualifying Tournament Works
There are 105 players remaining from the original 109 who began the week. Below is a breakdown of the various rewards players can earn this week:
Fully exempt on 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica
Fully exempt for first half of 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season
Nos. 13-35 (plus ties)
Conditionally exempt for first half of 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season
First Round 21
Second Round 19
Only two players have shot both rounds in the 60s through the first two days. Toni Hakula opened with a 68-69, while Jeremy Gandon fired a pair of 69s. Eleven other players shot back-to-back under-par scores.
There are only six Europeans entered this week, with Toni Hakula from Finland and France’s Jeremy Gandon 1-2 on the leaderboard.
Hunter Richardson shot a 5-under 67 after opening with a 73. His 67 is the low round of the week. Richardson, a University of Tennessee-Martin product, hade six birdies and one bogey.
Last season, Richardson played in eight PGA TOUR Latinoamerica tournaments, making four cuts, earning one top-10 and finishing 84th on the Order of Merit.
Charles Merzbacher and Andrew Wilkinson enjoyed the best turnarounds from the first round to the second. Merzbacher opened with a 7-over 79, turning in a 69 Wednesday, while Wilkinson went from an 81 to a 71. Merzbacher moved from a tie for 78th into a tie for 40th, and Wilkinson climbed 35 spots, to a tie for 62nd. Kyle Mueller improved by eight shots, with his second-round, 4-under 68. Mueller is tied for 17th, improving 42 places on the scoreboard.
Previously, Casey Komline had membership status on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica in 2016. After finishing 45th at the Qualifying Tournament that January, he tied for 16th at the summer Qualifying Tournament, earning four starts in the second half of the season. He missed three cuts and withdrew from the other. Komline enters the third round tied for third.
Casey Komline shares the Appalachian State 18-hole scoring record with five other Mountaineers. The others to shoot 65 in a round are Tomothius Tirto Tamardi, Casey Johnson, Josh Nichols and Alex Burris.
The last of leader Toni Hakula’s six birdies Wednesday came on No. 6, his 15th hole, and his final hole of the afternoon, No. 9. He rolled in a nine-footer on 15 and a 15-footer at the last.
Neal Ajubita, the 2019 medalist at this PGA TOUR Latinoamérica qualifying tournament, got off to a slow start in the first round, shooting a 5-over 77. He bounced back slightly Wednesday, shooting a 1-over 73 that leaves him tied for 47th with 36 holes to playI didn’t hit it good today, but the ones I did hit well I hit it close. I was very inconsistent and very happy to shoot what I did.” –Toni Hakula
“If you win, you get a full exemption, and two through 11 are exempt only through the first half (of the season). But everyone is really just vying for that top 11 because you know if you get the first half, if you make a couple of good cuts, you’re good for the second half (of the season). So all you’re really thinking is top 11. That’s good enough always. And if you can’t make cuts in the first half, you better stay home after that anyway. That’s how your mentality should be.” –Toni Hakula
“I’m still trying to get as big a lead as I can going into the last day. Obviously, it’s different knowing there isn’t prize money in the end. In that sense it’s different and it doesn’t matter where you finish, but you want to do as well as you can.” –Toni Hakula
“It’s a really good golf course. I’m definitely happy with how I started. I’ve played really solid the last couple of days.” –Roland Massimino
“I had about a four-footer to finish my first round, and it was completely pitch black when I putted. But I didn’t want to come out this morning and finish. And I made the putt, which was good.” –Roland Massimino
“I haven’t played much golf. I missed finals by a shot and took some time off after that. I had played a lot of golf for eight months straight, basically, without a whole lot of time off. I did some stuff I wanted to do. I did some hunting.” –Hunter Richardson
“I really just started back up about a week and a half ago, practicing and playing. I was knocking some rust off, and I am glad to shoot my first under-par score of the year.” –Hunter Richardson on the one-month break of golf he took without picking up a club
“I didn’t want to shoot myself in the foot starting out. I avoided that [Tuesday], barely. I had a rough start then brought myself back together.” –Hunter Richardson
“It’s just slowly coming back. You don’t have to do anything crazy for this. You just can’t make any big mistakes.” –Hunter Richardson on his Qualifying Tournament strategy
“Being able to score is the hardest part to get back. I’ve been hitting it well, but my putting is a little iffy. That came back a lot today. Honestly, it’s almost like relearning how to put a score together. I know that sounds stupid, but every year when I take time off, just putting a round together is the hardest part for me.” –Hunter Richardson
“I’m hitting it pretty well, giving myself lots of looks. It’s kind of a funky course with a few weird holes out there that you have to get through. I played those holes pretty solidly.” –Ben Griffin
“I think the starting stretch, No. 1, is a tricky tee shot. It’s a short par-5 if you get it in play. You can make a birdie there. No. 3 is kind of tight. You have to hit it through the chute. Coming down the stretch, 17 is a tough hole; you have a tree in the middle of the fairway you have to deal with.” –Ben Griffin
“You’re going to make bogeys. You’re tying your best not to make them out there, so you have to stay patient because there are a lot of birdie opportunities, with (the ability to hit) wedges on a lot of holes. I’ve been able to bounce back from all of my bogeys over the last two days.” –Ben Griffin
“I just have to try to keep the pedal down and keep it going.” –Ben Griffin
Second-Round Weather Report
Cool and windy in the morning. Temperature was 50 when the round began. Sunny and warm in the afternoon. High reached 71. Wind NE at 7-10 mph.